Four school districts in west Sonoma County, Forestville, Sebastopol and Calistoga are asking voters to authorize $82 million in bonds repair buildings and modernize classrooms:
* Measure A would authorize $42 million in bonds for the Calistoga Joint Unified School District.
* Measure I would authorize $23.8 million in bonds for the West Sonoma County Union High School District.
* Measure K would authorize $5.1 million in bonds for the Forestville Union School District.
* Measure M would authorize $11 million in bonds for the Twin Hills Union School District.
The Press Democrat Editorial Board endorsed all four measures on Oct. 22. A copy of their editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right picks? Disagree with the choices? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.
Want more information?
PD Editorial: Helping kids II
Measures A, I, K and M provide critical resources for students
In our Tuesday editorial, (“Helping kids”) we looked at four of the eight school bond measures that are before Sonoma County voters in this election. Today we look at the final four, three of them in west Sonoma County — Measures I, K and M — and one, Measure A, for Calistoga.
For each of the Sonoma County-centered measures, the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association has filed generic statements in opposition. In these, the group suggests that voters “start by asking why (these districts) need to borrow money and raise taxes to perform predictable maintenance and replacement of major building components.”
It’s a fair question, one that everyone should be asking of themselves and state lawmakers as well. The answer is that districts are required by law to set aside at least 3 percent of their annual budgets for maintenance, but that amount is woefully inadequate to meet the growing infrastructure needs of aging schools. In the meantime, most districts have seen their budgets shrink dramatically in recent years while the unfunded and under-funded mandates to meet education goals and student needs continue to grow. Forestville school district officials note their per-pupil funding is at its lowest point in 30 years.
Students deserve suitable environments in which to develop and learn. And for that reason, The Press Democrat strongly encourages voters to approve measures A, I, K and M.
Measure I is a $23.8 million bond measure in the West Sonoma County Union High School District, which includes Analy, Laguna and El Molino high schools.
Proceeds from the bond sales would be used to renovate and repair outdated classrooms, replace roofs, make school buildings more energy efficient and spruce up structures that in some cases are nearly 50 years old. Funds also would be used to build a new library at Analy High School, upgrade science labs at El Molino and Analy, construct covered cafeteria eating spaces and upgrade technology in all the schools.
Measure K is a $5 million bond for the Forestville Union School District which would go toward modernizing classrooms, replacing aging portables, upgrading security systems, making plumbing repairs and buying computers and other technology. Some of the district’s buildings date back to the 1930s and are in dire need of attention.
Measure M is an $11 million bond measure for the Twin Hills Union School District in Sebastopol. As with other schools seeking bond money, it plans to use its funds to make schools more energy efficient through the use of solar panels and photovoltaic systems, thus freeing up funds that can be used for classroom instruction. Money would also go toward bringing classrooms into the 21st century, improving arts, performing arts and music facilities and building a permanent library to replace the one that’s been operating out of a portable at Apple Blossom School.
Measure A is a $42 million bond measure for the Calistoga Joint Unified School District, which draws students from a portion of Sonoma County. The funds would go toward improving school libraries, upgrading classrooms and building a new gym and cafeteria at Calistoga Junior/Senior High School, among other things.
As with the other measures we discussed on Tuesday, all of these bonds would be overseen by independent citizens’ oversight committees. And the tax rates are reasonable, ranging from $11.50 per $100,000 assessed valuation for the West Sonoma County Union High School District to $25 per $100,000 for the Forestville Union School District and $30 for Twin Hills and $34 for Calistoga.
Studies continually show that housing prices increase and local economies jump when communities show a willingness to invest in their local schools. The best part is, this is a chance to invest with funds that cannot be taken away by state lawmakers. But they all need 55 percent of the vote to win.
The Press Democrat encourages a yes vote on Measures A, I, K and M.